Santander Invoice Finance is obviously the invoice finance arm of Santander Bank. Unfortunately they are not a company that I will be recommending at this stage.
Having rebranded their banks under one banner they bought the small independent invoice finance company called Liquidity and rebranded as Santander Invoice Finance. At the time this raised a few eyebrows and was seen as dipping their toe in the water by many.
I have had a few dealings with Liquidity and unfortunately they were not good ones. The feedback from clients was poor and their communication was equally poor. This poor communication was a criticism of clients and something that I experienced personally along with an air of arrogance.
However, I did have hopes for the business under the Santander banner. They have recruited new sales staff some of whom I know personally and are well respected in the industry. There is plenty of room for another bank owned invoice finance company and I was keen to see what they had to offer. I was hoping for a well funded lender with a flexible approach and a quick turnaround. Unfortunately, I discovered it was business as usual with miscommunication and a poor understanding of what they could and couldn’t do.
I approached them on behalf of a client looking for a £2m invoice discounting facility. I was assured early in the process that they wanted to support the proposal and they did a survey at the clients premises. While a few issues were highlighted they remained supportive and confirmed to me on a friday that the deal was underwritten and a formal offer letter would be produced the following tuesday as monday was a bank holiday. A job well done – or so I thought. No offer letter was sent on Tuesday and late that night I was informed that the deal had actually been declined. In fairness this decision was appealed and Santander Invoice Finance did make an offer but it was vastly different to the original offer and required that the client inject his own funds into the business and provide a personnal guarantee for £300,000. This was simply not feasible and I sense they knew that.
The consequence was that the business was potentially left without a funder as their existing lender no longer wanted to support them as they didn’t like the sector.
I accept that these things can happen but unfortunately I sense that little has changed at this invoice finance business even though the Liquidity name has been dropped and the big brand banner of the world 8th largest bank (by market cap) was attached to it. I am sure that things will improve at Santander Invoice Finance and I feel that the invoice finance market will be better for it. However, my personal opinion is that I wouldn’t want to be a Santander Invoice Finance customer just yet. The new structure is still being tweaked and the new staff are settling in and trying to learn the processes or hopefully develop processes. As such I feel that the planned growth will mean turbulent times are ahead and until things settle down I feel that there are other lenders who can offer the same facilities from a more stable base.
I feel that there are some quality independent invoice factoring companies who will provide a better service level and a more robust sales process at this stage. The other high street banks have some good invoice finance offerings also but as always it is important you select the best lender to suit your business and it’s needs.
I certainly won’t be recommending Santander Invoice Finance to any businesses in the near future.